Tuesday 28 July 2009


Pat and Margaret's house was ideal for our break in the west of Ireland, with plenty of room both inside and out. The boys had a great time on the big trampoline and Rowan and Sean made great use of the swings although Rowan had an alarming tendency to let go at inappropriate times, sometimes with painful consequences. Where Sean and Finn's legs seemed to be covered with bruises, Rowan goes more for the skint knee option. His knees and shins are decorated with a variety of scrapes, cuts and grazes, typically as the result of a fall on pavements as he tries running in his crocs. He is very sure-footed when clambering about rocks but not when moving at speed over level ground!

The weather in County Galway was much the same as at home, spells of sunshine competing with heavy downpours. At least the boys had plenty toys to amuse themselves with, including their "stretchy monkeys" which were purchased on the back of their haircuts the previous week. We drove out into Connemara on the Monday but the road was slow and bumpy so rather than head to Roundstone and reap the whirlwind of complaining children on the long drive back, we looped round to Spiddal. The boys had fun on the pier and rocks, throwing stones and exploring. We had dinner and a stroll around before heading back to Claregalway.

On Tuesday we drove to the pretty little seaside village of Kinvara before heading to Joan's fine house near Kilcolgan. The boys played mightily with Robert and his toys, especially the marble race, although Finn and Rowan were a bit apprehensive about the two Jack Russells any time they went outside to play. A thunderstorm curtailed any outdoor play as John arrived home and we all had an early dinner. Angus has settled reasonably well into his travel cot but seems intent on draining Sharon of every last drop of milk she can provide. It could be a growth spurt but it seems to have been lasting since he was born. He has been growing 1cm per week!

We headed into Salthill on Wednesday morning for more rock play, a cafe stop as showers loomed and Angus needed fed and then a trip into the amusements as the rain came on. Sean's eyes lit up as I won money on the penny falls but he needs education in the evils of gambling. Putting in 110 cent to win 135 cent is not necessarily a profitable pursuit. The boys also got to go on some car rides. Usually we tell them if the lights are flashing the rides are broken but it was their holday after all! After lunch back at the house, Hannah accompanied me and the big three back to Salthill, to Leisureland, for a swim. Sean and I went down the big water slide, which was for over-7s only. Rowan and Finn had a good time too. In the evening, Hannah babysat while Sharon and I dined at the ultra-stylish g Hotel in Galway. The food was excellent (duck with strawberries to start and John Dory for the main with a great selection of cheeses to finish) and it was relaxing to get away from everyone to spend an evening together.

Thursday was granny and grampa day as we frittered away the morning before driving into Tuam, negotiating another hold-up on the way. There have been numerous diversions and jams on our travels this week. We went first to see Granny Coen, who had met Angus at the house when Joan brought her on Sunday. The boys did some exploring round the back. Next we visited Joe Gormley, now happy in a nursing home in Tuam. He was delighted to hold his latest great grand-child and is still planning on being around to bring up the century in 2013. On our return to Claregalway I cooked dinner for ourselves and Rosie, Pat and Orla.

Friday was christening day for Angus Ian Wallace. We had a private christening at the church in Claregalway, with Michael and Marie standing as godparents. Olivia and Sasha arrived, with Olivia meeting Angus for the first time. Sean, Finn and Rowan weren't at their best in the church, taking the opportunity to run wild amongst the vast empty pews with Edel and Adrian in pursuit. Finn was absent from the photo Sasha took, as ever deciding that he would get more attention by running off. We returned to the house for a christening lunch of chicken and salads as the showers threatened once more. Angus retired to his bed, having been impeccably behaved throughout the short service, getting the oil on his chest and head and the water poured on his head without complaint. We had a good family day, the bigger lads loving the attention from all their aunts and uncle. Norrie popped in too.

Saturday was a bit of a lazy day and it was well into the afternoon before we got our act together to head to Tracht beach, a grey-sand bay west of Kinvara. Sean and Finn wasted no time in stripping down for a paddle, although taking their clothes off before they were in the sea would have been a better option. Rowan is still no great fan of paddling. His time will come. We met up with Adrian in Kinvara, had a stroll round, then the boys had pizza by the quayside. In the evening, we returned to the g Hotel with Michael, Marie and Adrian for another fine meal, Sharon tucking into lobster ravioli, Marie having a fine monkfish lasagne and me opting for the sea trout on a smoked haddock mash. Adrian and Michael both had the chicken. Yum. In fact, the food has been very tasty this week, with the chickens, potatoes and carrots far more flavoursome than at home. We've made a couple of chicken broths that were just packed with flavour compared to stocks we would make at home.

We began the long drive home at 1015 on Sunday, heading north up the N17 to Sligo then heading across country to Belfast, stopping off for lunch at Enniskillen which was largely closed except for the sprawling Killyhelvin Hotel which was mobbed. We managed to secure a decent carvery lunch in good time and meet up with Pat and Margaret who seemed to have had a good time in Scotland. We cut it a little fine for the remaining 82 miles to the boat but we made it in good time on the motorway. The boys ran about daft on the boat before we had our picnic tea then we drove up from Stranraer in just over 2.5 hours, taking an eternity to get past Ayr but speeding up considerably thereafter. Finn remained awake and had a delighted look on his face to be the last child standing (or sitting) as his brothers slumbered while he was fed snacks by Sharon. Rowan transferred to bed quite well, Sean read a bit and Finn was ready for his sleep as we arrived home at 2230 after a long day's travelling.

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